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A Charlotte business is teaching young girls STEM and mentorship opportunities

Encouraging girls to pursue whatever they put their minds to by giving them hands-on opportunities. It’s the message behind Smile Savvy's nonprofit SCORE Inc.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Encouraging girls to pursue whatever they put their minds to by giving them hands-on opportunities. That's the message behind Smile Savvy's nonprofit SCORE Inc.

“I started it with my sister in 2017, and we’ve been growing it ever since," Smile Savvy owner Joya Lyons said.

Every year, the Charlotte dentistry pairs girls ages 13 and up with different doctors around the area for mentorship opportunities.

“That’s the critical age where you can really determine if you like a career or not," Joya Lyons said.

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Joya and her husband Drew have a lot of experience with being so career-minded early on in life. 

“I feel like Charlotte is on the cusp of being a great hub for Black professionals specifically," Smile Savvy owner Drew Lyons said.

This year the Smile Savvy owners are celebrating the seventh anniversary in the business.

“We specialize in creating beautiful smiles doing cosmetic dentistry specifically," Joya Lyons said.

It’s also a dentistry built on love.

The two cosmetic dentists met during a fellowship at UNC-Chapel Hill.

The rest, they say, is history.

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“We took bad advice from so many people who said it would ruin your marriage, you don’t want to bring kids into this, just keep things separate but what I found is there’s no better business partner than my wife," Drew Lyons said.

Now their focus is helping others in the community, especially young girls, learn skills that have kept them successful over the years.

“Of course, there were some detours, but the consistency I’m most proud of, sticking together, working together and compromising," Joya Lyons said.

It's skills they hope help create and inspire more Black business owners.

“Once they see it's possible and to have that encouragement along the way, it’s really going to make a difference in the future," Joya Lyons said.

“I didn’t know I wanted to be a dentist until I met a Black dentist," Drew Lyons said.